Her boyfriend's bought a pair of skates, wants to come along, and so we get together on Sunday. 

The arena, it's the busiest we've seen any of the arena's, the boyfriend's brought along another Italian couple, recent immigrants, they don't have skates, and so will just sit on the bleachers and coach him.

His skates, brand new, expensive hockey skates. Hers, used figure skates, $40 for the pair, mine, used mens vintage skates, $60, his, probably $250. You need to have the best when you're learning something new...

He rejects all offers to help him, insists upon holding onto the boards, circling the rink in small steps, "Finding his balance", she and I, we skate away, I'm helping her, raise her feet, skate backwards, he passes us on the boards, slips and falls, his pride is injured, she's to blame, she falls onto the boards and follows him around the rink...

***

Sunday, busy, everywhere the immigrant parents are launching their little children onto the ice from penalty boxes like little unbalanced missiles or projectiles that careen, spin, stumbling, falling, and occasionally finding their legs, perhaps 30 of them sprawled out upon the ice, veering madly past you, it's an obstacle course at 15 and 20 miles an hour, bundled up in coats, helmets, pads, the senior skaters swerve and dodge around them with grace, with me it's all luck...her boyfriend, he's cursing every little one, "They should do something about this...", he grumbles, like every new driver on the road everyone else is to blame, his friends, in the bleachers, they're cheering him on with waves and thumbs-up...it's a miracle the ice isn't stained with the dismembered entrails and fingers of the little novices,...

There's another one, Kevin Spacey, my age, looks like Kevin Spacey, but better looking, way better than me, I'd thought I was doing all right, but watching him I realize he's about as far above me as I'm above the Italian Girl, a full order of magnitude, he's skating around the rink, dodging me, backwards, crossover steps, stops, he's good. He swerves to avoid me and smiles, that knowing smile, the forgiveness of idiots, he's got it all, I gotta like him...he's upped my game...

***

The boyfriend, after an hour and a half, we're all done. With the other Italian couple they charge me with the task of finding dinner. I inquire about price, her boyfriend, he waves expansively, price is no object, he only wants value...he's happy to pay for value, big portions, that's his idea of value, or truffles, and I suppress my urge to suggest that value can be found in atmosphere, service, and company, don't want to appear rude...

...we start at Farm. she's been, she likes, they look at the menu, hum and haw, decide against, they don't want to sit at the bar...

...from her to Model Milk, she's never been, she likes, they *(her boyfriend and guests) look at the menu and hum and haw, they don't like the set menu...

We walk down 17th Avenue, looking at menu's all the way, at "The Living Room" we stop, I haven't been in a while, it's still good I hear, they don't like the prices, it's expensive for sure...he begins again to tell me about value...quality...he's not cheap, he just wants bang for his buck...

That's not it. She'd told me earlier that he'd forbidden her from attending a half day workshop, something that interested her, $30, "Too Expensive", he's cheap, a miser, and this cheapness strongly suggests a poverty of spirit and imagination. Still, he's her boyfriend, I have to be kind...

Onward, until finally we stop at the Ship and Anchor...

Here we settle. A round of drinks, him, talking to his guests, me to her, until we order and the food arrives.

The other Italian Couple, I don't know their names, don't remember, she asked for no onion on her burger, it's fine in the salad, only she doesn't like in her burger...when she inspects her burger she discovers onion, flags the waiter, sends it back...

...the replacement burger, served with the waiter uttering the "No Onion", has onion as well, she flags the waiter and sends it back, with a large piece of her mind to accompany the burger...

...it's absurd, she doesn't like onion, could just pluck it off the burger and eat it, but instead sends it back every time, ...I'm annoyed...

I step outside for a cigarette, the standard smokers, one, a native, selling his artwork, the other a street "Magician" showing off his tricks. They're pretty bad, I give him $5 nonetheless to go away, another patron of the Ship shows up to give him $20 to show him how it was done, I'm not that drunk yet...

They've seen me, outside chatting, ask what's up, I explain, offer the boyfriend a cigarette so he can go out and see for himself, he refuses, explains he can't smoke...when he was a child...his mother...smoked...cigarettes...butts...in a little room...my eyes are rolling back in my head, it's far more traumatic listening to his retelling of it than his childhood could ever have been...

...sneak up to the bar, pay the bill, apologize profusely to the waiter, excuse myself and leave, disappear, the skating thing, it's probably better if it's just me and her, by the end of the week my patience for Italians is worn too thin...